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Characterisation of the fracture resistance of polymers used in fibre-reinforced composites and its rate dependence

Brunel University London (BUL) is recruiting to EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) PhD studentships effective 1 October 2020. Applications are invited for the following specific project called “Characterisation of the fracture resistance of polymers used in fibre-reinforced composites and its rate dependence”.   Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend (bursary) of £17,285 plus payment of their full-time home tuition fees for a period of 36 months (3 years). Applicants must be eligible for home tuition fees either through nationality, residency (living in the UK for at least three years and not wholly for educational purposes) or other connection to the UK. 

The successful applicants will join the internationally recognised researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. This exciting research project is focused on a numerical and experimental investigation of the rate-dependence of delamination resistance in fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites.  Rate-dependent cohesive-zone models and advanced microscopy techniques will be used to gain better understanding of the physical mechanisms of fracture at the micro and nanoscale that explain why, for very high strain rates, the toughness of rubber can be as much as ten times that of glassy polymers.  Experiments and simulations will be conducted both on polymer specimens and on composite laminates undergoing delamination to establish a rigorous modelling framework relating the material properties of the polymer and the fracture resistance of the composite laminate.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate their sound knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of solid body mechanics, engineering calculus and algebra as well as good standard in academic writing.

Please contact Dr Giulio Alfano at giulio.alfano@brunel.ac.uk or Dr George Fern at george.fern@brunel.ac.uk for an informal discussion about the studentships.

This is a College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences: EPSRC Funded DTP PhD Studentship.


Applicants will have or be expected to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Mathematics, Physics or a similar discipline. A Postgraduate Masters degree is not required but may be an advantage.   

Experience in programming, linear and nonlinear finite-element analysis and/or microscopy analysis is an advantage.  In addition, the applicant should be highly motivated, able to work in a team, collaborate with others and have good communication skills.

How to apply

Please submit your application documents (see list below) by Noon on Friday 26 June 2020 to cedps-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk. Interviews will take place in July 2020.

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • Your personal statement (300 to 500 words) summarising your background, skills and experience;
  • Your Undergraduate/Postgraduate Masters degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Evidence of your English language skills to IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent, 6.0 in all sections), if appropriate;
  • Contact details for TWO referees, one of which can be an academic member of staff in the College.

Remember to state the title of the project at the top of your personal statement.